One of the big omissions from WWDC 2014 was an iPad split screen multitasking mode. Critics argued it was the last big step required for iPads to become truly powerful laptop alternatives and the feature was widely tipped to appear in iOS 8. It was a no show. Until now.
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Earlier this week iOS developer Steven Troughton-Smith found code relating to the split screen multitasking mode in the beta copy iOS 8 released to app makers. Now the same developer has managed to get it working and he has posted this video to YouTube to show it off.
The demo runs on the iOS simulator for Mac which is why you see a mouse cursor, but it highlights the two finger sideways gesture required to split the screen. Interestingly the feature was expected to be a simple 50/50 split screen mode, but the demo shows both one third and three quarter modes are possible opening up a wealth of useful combinations such as Pages beside Mail or Maps beside messaging apps.
At present it looks clumsy and the iOS dock is resized inside the main window so there is no way for apps to be launched in the second split screen, but the feature is still being developed.
Interestingly such a feature has long been requested in Android as well and with Google slow on the uptake, partners like Samsung have already hacked the platform to enable both split screens and pop out video which can be watched from anywhere in the OS.
As with WWDC 2014, many predict Google will officially add a split screen mode to Android at I/O 2014 which kicks off later this month. With Apple’s intentions now clear, Google would get the jump on Apple if it can hit the deadline when Apple missed.
For both platforms a slick, intuitive split screen mode could be a game changer. With phones getting ever larger and tablets proliferating both our personal and professional lives the ability to do more than one thing at once is of increasing importance.
With Apple long rumoured to be planning a 12.9in iPad Pro and Google readying Android for a wider assault on the PC market expect both companies to make the leap sooner rather than later.